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A harsh, repetitive cough similar to the noise of a seal barking. Also known as laryngotracheitis or laryngotracheobronchitis.
Persons most commonly affected: Children between the ages of 6 months to 3 years of both sexes. In very rare cases, adults can get croup.
Organ or part of body involved: Generally affects the larynx and trachea but may also extend to the bronchi.
Symptoms and indications: Symptoms of croup are caused by narrowed airways. They include a barking cough; a raspy, hoarse voice; and a harsh, crowing noise when breathing in. The cough is very distinctive, so you\'ll know it when you hear it. It is often compared to the sound of a barking seal. Sometimes children breathe fast and need to sit up to breathe better.
Symptoms of croup often improve during the day and get worse at night. Sometimes children have croup attacks that wake them up in the middle of the night for a couple nights in a row, but the illness usually improves gradually in 2 to 5 days.
Causes and risk factors: Croup is often caused by the parainfluenza virus. Less often, respiratory syncytial virus or various other respiratory viruses cause croup.
Your child may contract a virus by breathing infected respiratory droplets coughed or sneezed into the air. Virus particles in these droplets may also survive on toys and other surfaces. If your child touches a contaminated surface and then touches his or her eyes, nose or mouth, an infection may follow. Rarely, croup may be caused by a bacterial infection.
Prevention: Croup often runs its course within three to seven days. In the meantime, keep your child comfortable with a few simple measures.
Stay calm -- Comfort or distract your child